tv Tavis Smiley PBS November 11, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PST
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. >> every community has a martin tonight a conversation with mickey rourke. the oscar nominee continues a career resurgeon that's placed him among the ranks of hollywood's most sought after actors. his latest project is "immortals." it opens around the country this weekend. we're glad you've joined us. a conversation with mickey rourke. coming up. right now. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time.
nationwide is on your side. >> and by contribution to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: pleased to welcome mickey rourke back to this program following his oscar nominated role in "the wrestler." the actor continues his run in films like "iron man 2" and "immortals" opens this weekend and a scene from "immortals." >> does he know of my rage? does he know that i only live to see his blood at the end of my sword? does he know he butchered my mother?
>> he's he's seen your face. he knows. tavis: we stop that scene just before it got cronk. and about to be popping on at that scene in just a second which leads me to start this conversation by asking when are you going to stop playing these physical roles? you're not getting they younger, dude. >> i'm no spring chicken. tavis: you aren't getting they younger. >> this one really wasn't that physical. tavis: yeah. >> we had some -- a nice fight scene and i won't say when it comes in but we actually did the fight scene. and it was choreographed and then they go to the middle of nowhere and test movies. and what they said was they wanted to see more.
so about seven or eight months after we finished the movie we went back in and actually rechoreographed a longer, more physical fight scene. and i said, oh, no. i don't mind if it's like a line here and there. but not the fight scene again. tavis: you make my point. what is it about these physically demanding roles that really get your attention? >> physically, you know, it supports my whole life coming up. and it's something that i've always tremendously miss. i always liked contact sports. and it just -- the preparation or the training that i have to do before i do a film is usually a couple of months or what have you. i need that regimen in my life to just be calm and to relax and everything. it's something i miss. like when you see a professional fighter or a football player, baseball, whatever sport, and somebody says you can't do it anymore. you got to retire. half of them go haywire.
tavis: that's true. >> you know. tavis: you get hurt on this one? >> no. i was hurt coming in this one. tavis: you were hurt going in. >> i was real hurt going in. i was over in london. and i was in a bar at about 4:00 in the morning drinking some tequila. tavis: not a bar story, mickey. >> no. rugby players came in. and we started talking about sport. and i thought we had a lot in common. and this, that and the other and the tequila. and the good time. and one thing led to another. we started arm wrestling. and i went through one or two of them and the third guy was the size of a house and he just -- my tendon popped. my arm swelled up real big. and anyway, to make a long story short, we started a friendship and they gave me a magazine about their team, the giants. and that article was an article about another rugby player who is the first athlete to come out of the closet while he is
still playing professionally. tavis: uh-huh. >> and i heard some talk about him. i was watching that part of the interruption show. and they were giving him props for his courage for coming out. especially playing the game that he plays. and so i went over and asked him if i could have -- get the rights to his story. tavis: now you're going to play him. >> i'm going to play him. tavis: another physical role. >> yeah. but i've been training for six months. tavis: rugby is a tough sport. >> and i haven't done wind sprints in 20 years. so you can imagine what i'm going through. tavis: yeah. >> actually had the -- my body broke down about a month ago. when the doctor actually told my trainer, cut everything in half. tavis: right. >> so we've got another six months of training. and going to rock and roll with it. tavis: shouldn't there be something in your contract for aural the agents and producers who are -- for all the agents and producers who are watching, a new contract, are mickey rourke cannot arm wrestle in
bars in advance of shooting the next project. >> i'm never going to -- i called -- i was in germany actually. and i called up somebody had told me, a friend of mine had told me that klitschko had just had a bicep operation. a tendon operation, what have you. and to call him up. so i called up -- i called klitschko up. and first thing he said is, mickey, you're too old to be arm wrestling rugby players. the operation didn't work. tavis: yeah. >> i'm probably going to have to get a cadaver tendon. and the chances that it will work, it will work. tavis: have you always been this way? have you always liked living on the edge and the wild side? >> see, that's the thing is i don't consider it living on the edge. tavis: you being you. >> no. where i come from, all the boys that litched on the edge, they're all in -- lived on the edge, they're all in jail. knows are the guys i consider living -- those are the guys i consider living on the edge. tavis: that's fair.
"immortals." king hyperion. this role you're playing here. >> i showed up with my pants on and said my lines. tavis:, no. tell me about the character. >> the character is a mythology character that he's a god that's -- that they threw out of upstairs. whatever they wanted to call it then. and he is down here on earth. and people said, well, he's really a mean -- he's quite evil. and i try to say, well, you look at it like, well, he considered this territory his neighborhood. and some young -- is coming into his neck of the woods on his bs. no, no, this is my neighborhood. so, you know, you have to ask a daddlse. -- you have to skedaddle. tavis: you love this. i can see this on your face. >> i have a good time. you like playing evil guys. i take what they offer me. but i always look for something that has integrity. like that's why i chose to work with this director. i saw his commercial reel.
and i was blown away by it. he even did a commercial where -- reel where he had all these athletes and they were in masks and nike with derek jeter and all these other guys. and that was like preparation for him to do this. you see. with the masks. and everything. and i knew when i read the material, after looking at his reel, he would be able to sort of transcend what was on the page to the screen. and a very classy way. tavis: you aren't going to deny that you do like playing heavy guys. like playing the heavy. >> you know what? nor some reason, usually if you read a screenplay no matter who's writing it, the bad guy written is always a one dimensional bad guy. i always say to the director, and went through this on other projects, wait a minute. he can't be bad all the time. i've met some gangsters in my day, can i get you this? can you do that? and really polite. and then it's like yeah, we're going to cut him up later.
so i want to add those elements. it was nice about this director who is very clever is he said well, before you go over there and cut his off, stop over there and pick up the apple and sort of maybe you're going 0 give it to him and maybe not. you aren't just running over there to cause havoc. you know? take a moment to just see what you want to do before you do it. tavis: so why not, then, and maybe you will, in the not too distant future, why not go, just do a 180 and play a character who he is, just a really, really nice guy? >> i'm waiting for that. hollywoodas famous for putting you -- hollywood's famous for putting in you had a box. tavis: yeah. would you like that? >> of course i would like to get the girl. tavis: would you like that? i heard the laugh part. i know you can do that. can you play the nice guy? >> i'm looking forward to it. lots of times the bad guy, if i can play with it a little bit and talk, communicate with the
director, and the powers to be, i can turn it into a very interesting character. where, you know, the all-american so-and-so has written a certain way, and so, it's -- i'm looking forward to playing a good guy. i am. tavis: how has this -- i suspect most of the persons who are honored to have a chance to interview you, right around this point of your career, i suspect this comes up in every conversation. which is this resurgence that you are undergoing, this bounceback, whatever you want to call it, bounceback, comeback, resurgence, how do you see that? and is it going the way that you thought it would? you had a serious run since the wrestler, man. you've been running it. >> i had a serious amount of time, 13 years out of work, too. tavis: yeah. >> where after a decade, after several years went by, i thought, i'm not going to get invited to the dance again. after a decade went by, i started thinking, i can't be in this town and feel this kind of
shame and humiliation and -- it makes you feel small. you feel insignificant. and it's like people said oh, well, you got hard back in the day. yeah, i got hard but i got hard to cover up, a whole bunch that made me feel small and insignificant when i was little. because it's easy to feel like this. and, you know, than the other way. so like after 10 years or so, went by, i had lost pretty much everything i tried to -- i thought i had or wanted. and there was some -- there was some particular things i wanted back. and i knew, i can't go into what it is, but i knew if i could come back again, maybe i could get this -- these things back. tavis: you say you don't want to go into it and i won't pressure you on it but the things you're talking about, are they external things or intrnl things? character things or possessions? >> neither. tavis: ok. >> yeah. it was just some contact that i wanted to just reclaim. i wanted to be good enough to
be able to be identified like recognize -- reckoned with. it gave me the fire -- gave me the drive. because i said i got to have that back. or i'm going to just die. tavis: when you know inside, mickey, when you know inside that you still have that, by that, the gift, you still have the gift, you still have the talent, and folk don't recognize it, either because you have self-inflicted wounds or because just not calling your number right now, but when you have that gift, you've shown it before. you no it's still there. they're not gitching you a chance to expose it again, how do you navigate that? >> it's not about the gift. it's not about that at all. that's the thing. it's about the reputation. and that's -- the first time around, you could go make a few mistakes. you're in your 20's or whatever. you can, you no. but when you come back, you try to come back at 40, it's like -- you got this reputation. and i didn't handle my stuff good.
i have said in the past, i was responsible for bringing mickey down. not anybody else. i would scream and yell at. because there comes that one day when you got -- when you're all alone and you got to look in the mirror. and you can't blame anybody else. because that's the only way you can get strong again. is if you do the hard work and you take the blame. then you got to climb that headline all by yourself. and it's harder the second time around. because you got to make changes and change is the hardest thing in the world for anybody for a guy like me or guys like me. what have you. is to completely change and turn the cheek a little bit. because you feel like -- oh, man, i built my whole life to be this kind of man and i got to like -- i got to bend a little bit. but it was ok for me to bend a little bit. what i had cultivated myself into was not a strength. it was a weakness. tavis: it wasn't hard for you to be humble? >> it was a process. tavis: uh-huh. >> it came easier. it was not easy for me to say i
didn't care about -- i didn't care about repercussions. i didn't care about what professional -- being called a professional was. or being on time. or telling somebody, you know, to off or what are you looking at? you know, if i'm walking into a fancy restaurant in beverly hills and some guy who is a big-time player, is looking at my girl, i'm going to say something. but you can't do that all the time. oh, well, he's just admiring what i got. instead of like -- tavis: that thing, that thing that we're not going to talk about, that you wanted to reclaim, have you reclaimed it? have you found it or are you still in the process? >> no, no. tavis: it's still coming? >> no, no. there are certain things i reclaimed. and there are other things that you realize in life you're better off without. tavis: what are you proudest of that you have reclaimed with this resurgence you've been on? everybody is loving you right
now. so what are you proudest of and you have in fact pulled back on your side of the ledger? >> letting what made me short-circuit years ago, letting that -- that anger and that shame go. tavis: ok. >> being able to go. that man with the big stick ain't around no more. i can't blame the whole world for that. and that. because everybody paid for that. when that guy swang the lead, the rest of my life i paid for that. tavis: the anger i get. why shame? what's there to be shameful about? now inflicting some wounds, what's there to be shameful about? >> probably -- it's hard to talk about. it's not being able to stick up for yourself when you're two feet tall. and say i don't -- get your hands off me.
you know? even though you can't do nothing. tavis: what is it about the acting thing that allowed you to endure all that you've endured to fight as hard as you have fought to come back? i mean, there must be something about this thing called acting. there must be something about being a thespian that just means more to you than anything in the world. >> you know, when i started out, i started out boxing. and i got hurt. and i took a couple years off and i didn't go back. i went -- i started to do the acting thing by mistake. and i kind of went -- it was hard for me. because it was all -- i wasn't real social. and i wasn't very verbal. i was just dead quiet. plus i was still on the street. and i was handing out fliers, on 42nd street. and doing this, that and the other. and i shouldn't have been doing. and it was like -- it was weird to be on the treat and going to
acting class like regular people. i'm sitting there watching, going, when i'm -- am i going to get in front. class and read something? for two years i sat in class and i couldn't get up in front of a class. it was like -- it was like i couldn't do it. i was terrified. and then one day, i was with this teacher said to me, to do like what you call work, she put myself somewhere else. and someplace that i loved that i missed. and i made it to fifth street gym. and we're doing this activity where i was lacing my shoes up. and my boots and she said you hear -- you har sounds in the gym. who's there? and she said to me, tell whose voice you hear? i hear ali's voice. i hear jimmy alice's voice and jerry quarry's voice and i started to have fun with it. and i was so focused and concentrated that it let all my -- being scared go. and years later, when i got -- i didn't like acting anymore, and i went away, and then turned professional and fought for five years and freddie
roach was my trainer, there came a day when you can't fight anymore. ok. because my neurological tests. but people said i think to myself, was that destructive that i took five years off to go do that? but yet what i gained -- what i never had, even when i was an amateur fighter or even as a civilian, i never had discipline with my -- with being focused and concentrated. i was always scattered everywhere. but going back and working with freddie roach, it was all about being responsible, being focused, and being concentrated. you know? and hard work. and just going over something that was like -- anybody can do all this. but if you train the way you no about boxing, if you can just perfect a left jab, you can keep 90% of the people off you. so it's all about boom. and i remember one time i gone boom, and i got this hand down here. freddie threw off his mitt and
hit me with a left hook and said get the hand off. better you learn it in the gym than in the fight. so now with acting, when that little red light goes on and you have to do your thing, i'm relaxed. i'm concentrated. because when that bell rang, it was like oh, excuse me, could you -- could you do that over here? tavis: so the fight game has enhanced your acting ability. >> it really brought back like a sixth sense with being, you know, like live or die when that light goes on. so it's just -- it helped me. tavis: since you raised that, you mentioned that boxing had -- you mentioned it but i'll take it a step further. so there's a fighter who you used to train, a guy named terry claiborne. >> i wasn't his trainer. tavis: his manager. >> i was an amateur fighter. terry claiborne just turned pro and he needed some kind of support and bill slaton got -- god rest his soul, he was like a dad to all of us, he said, you know, let's manage terry together. because you aren't going
anywhere. and terry is going somewhere. he said you're going to be a club fighter and terry can be a champion. we managed terry together and terry was like i think 12, 13-0 and beautiful speed fighter with a left hook. quick. quick feet. and smart. which is -- tavis: the guy that you used to manage is now my trainer. i hear these melky rourke stories in the -- mickey rourke stories in the gym all the time. >> he's one of three guys who did. tavis: he has great respect and admiration for all did you for him and his career. i raise that because only to your point, when i started boxing a year or so ago i was amazed at how much the fight game really does discipline you in every other aspect of your life. and i'm relatively disciplined person anyway. but fighting -- >> a whole other level. that focus, that concentration. it's just -- freddie roach,
since he's got manny pacquiao, he's -- freddie used to sleep in the gym and he's a millionaire now but if you see freddie working in action, it's like -- it's all about concentration. focus. if you go in there as you know, and you -- even though he's strong as a horse, and you're not relaxed, you're going to get tired. it's all about relaxation. concentration. and focus. which is key elements with -- when you're acting. tavis: since you mentioned freddie's name two or three times i can't let this conversation end without asking you, who you like in the fight this weekend. >> somebody asked me that the other day. this weekend. freddie. i thought you meant the other one coming up. tavis: so manny and -- >> marquez. tavis: yeah. exactly. you like manny in this fight? >> here's the way i look at it. whoever freddie roach is training, i'm rooting for. that's the way it is. tavis: manny in this fight.
ok. so pacquiao -- >> yes. tavis: it ain't -- >> if freddie switched camps i would be rooting for the or guy. tavis: are you soarius? >> i love freddie. anybody who said to me i was losing in a fight in miami, and you aren't doing too good and about even. the other guy was beating me a little bit. i went back to the corner. my hometown. and freddie goes like this, you want to go back to acting? and i said, no. and he goes like this. boom. then you get in there and knock him out. tavis: pretty good. >> freddie is great. legendary. and great fighter. passed away. give my condolences to marvis and his family. smoking joe. a legend. yeah. i like joe. he was a piece of work. tavis: so to your point now, the point you made a moment ago about freddie asking whether you wanted to go back to
acting. so this is it for you the rest of your life. you're comfortable now in this space, this acting space? >> yes. yes. tavis: this is it? >> i feel very blessed that i've had the opportunity to come back and do this again. i mean, in any line of work, no matter what you do, anywhere, you don't get the second chance. and even with sports you don't get a second chance. tavis: you even got hands and feet, put that back up, you got hands and feet in the sidewalk now. >> yeah. i'm more proud of having my dog and my grandma and my brother's name on that. tavis: tell me about this. this love you have. you love your dogs over the years. >> yeah. tavis: where -- how did that -- >> just from -- like when you lose everything and the people run to the hills and you change your habits and -- i realized i had to change the people i was rolling with. going out with. and they weren't good for me to be around. what have you. he wasn't good to be around. i had to clean house and that's what i ended up was lokey and
chocolate. they're named after fighters. tavis: so that old saying is true is a dog is really a man's best friend. >> absolutely. absolutely. tavis: you lost one of your dogs. >> i would rather stick a knife in my assistant than hit my dog. come over here, son. tavis: you lost one of your dogs. >> i lost all my -- i had the whole brood. for 19 years, 18 years, 17 years, 16, 14, and 13. tavis: you start over again? >> i started over again. tavis: what you got now? >> ruby baby, i got bushakovsky, tango manaranko and jaws. tavis: i love mickey rourke. >> yeah. tavis: the new movie is called "immortals." this guy has been on a run the last few years. since "the wrestler." and i'm rooting for mickey rourke all the time. if he roots for freddie roach,
i root for mickey rourke. that's our show. until next time, keep the faith. >> for more information visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. >> join me for a conversation with eye chonic cellist yo-yo ma and a special performance from his new c.d. that's next time. we'll see you then. >> wal-mart stands together with your community. to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side.
i took it into a shop once and they said-- they thought it was probably worth perhaps £100 but i ought to get it looked at by such as yourself to get a value on it. so you really would like to know the value? well, i think it is for me something that really appeals. this reminds me of when i wake up in the morning, i have a big fig tree in my garden full of birds. but of course i don't see little things like these parakeets which are absolutely, beautifully done, with their little pink cheeks. and what's so nice about this is you've got all the shading in the leaf, which is extraordinary when you think this is actually made of bronze.
it's bronze, bronze birds, bronze leaf, - cold painted. - yeah. and there's one factory that really comes to mind when you look at something like this, which is the bergman factory. now normally things like this you'd expect it to be marked. if you turn it upside down, there is a mark. and many people fall into the trap here. and all this says is "patent applied for." - oh, right. - so that's not the mark. and bergman things are very collectible. - yes. - this is-- has got all that appeal, it's got real sex appeal in my view. well, i think there are many people who would like something like this-- the vibrancy, the sheer delight of it. and a conservative estimate for this would be somewhere in the region of £1,200 to 1,500. really? gosh. that's a bit more than £100, isn't it? yes. my husband thought it was the top of a walking stick. - what do you think it's made of? - i don't know.
horn, a horn of some kind. you're right. it is a horn. that's absolutely spot-on. it looks a bit like plastic, doesn't it? but it is horn. this is actually inlaid in ivory, those pieces and stained. and it's in the form of a cicada, i think. and it's japanese. and it dates from probably the middle of the 19th century. and those two holes are the clue as to what it is. it's actually a netsuke. it's worn at the waistband like that. i think it's a very unusual and rare object. i think you wouldn't have much trouble getting around £1,000 for it. good heavens. - bit of a shock? - good heavens. well, it is a big shock. good. - thank you. - i'll look at it with different eyes. well done.